Indian scientists work towards creating vital part of human eye
Chennai: Half a dozen eye hospitals in India are collaborating with a research centre in Chennai to create the inner layer of the cornea, the vital window of the human eye.
Nichi-In Centre for Regenerative Medicine (NCRM) hopes to make corneal endothelium (inner cell layer) available on a commercial scale ? and eventually plans to set up a world class Corneal Endothelial Stem (CES) /Precursor Cell Bank at a cost of $8 million.
The CES bank is expected to facilitate 14,000 eye transplants a year.
The project is based on the findings of Japanese doctor Shiro Amano of the Tokyo University School of Medicine, who in 2002 found that the endothelium of the cornea contains stem cells ? cells in initial stages of development ? that can be multiplied several times in the laboratory.
“The finding triggered worldwide research in creating corneal cells for therapeutic use,” said Samuel J K Abraham, lead researcher and director of the Chennai laboratory of the Nichi-In Centre.
The eye has three main parts: The first is the cornea, which is a transparent film-like structure that transmits light into the eye. The other two are the lens and retina.
During eye transplants, only the cornea is taken from the donor, not the whole eye. The black central portion of the eye has an outer layer, a middle portion and an inner layer (known as the endothelial layer).
Eye fluid keeps the cornea alive for up to six hours, allowing time for harvesting it and transplanting it.
With the new technique, when cornea specimen from one eye donor is received, it could be used for 5-10 needy patients, the researchers said.
Nichi-In is now growing the animal and human corneal inner layer cells on a nano-scaffolding.The research centre is hoping to begin phase I clinical trials on humans in six months